The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) is reportedly planning to crack down on over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix in Pakistan after the Eidul Azha holiday, according to Khalid Arain, Chairman of the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan. Arain revealed that a productive discussion took place between cable operators and senior Pemra officials, during which the concerns of the cable operators were conveyed. He pointed out the restrictions faced by cable operators in broadcasting several channels, while OTT platforms have the freedom to showcase popular channels.
Arain emphasized the cable operators’ request for regulatory measures regarding operators offering both internet and cable services. In response to these demands, Pemra has responded positively. They will establish a committee within the organization to address the issue of granting licenses to cable operators and will launch a crackdown on OTT platforms once the Eidul Azha period concludes.
Furthermore, Arain called for a tax exemption in the cable sector, drawing a parallel to the solar power industry. He suggested that taxes on cable operators should be eased, but he did not provide a specific explanation or justification for this request. Arain also highlighted an inequity in the payment system, pointing out that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) collects Local Loop license fees from cable operators in US dollars, while subscribers make payments in the local currency. He deemed this situation unfair, citing the existing rupee-dollar exchange rate as a contributing factor.
The potential crackdown on OTT platforms by Pemra indicates a shift in regulatory focus in Pakistan’s media landscape. Cable operators have expressed their concerns regarding broadcasting restrictions and the need for a level playing field with OTT platforms. The establishment of a committee to address licensing issues and the proposed crackdown on OTT platforms following the Eidul Azha period demonstrate Pemra’s intention to address these concerns. The outcome of these regulatory actions will shape the future landscape of media consumption in Pakistan and have implications for both cable operators and OTT platforms operating in the country.